Tropical army worm about
KVH received reports last week of caterpillars causing significant damage in young kiwifruit development blocks.
The caterpillars were quickly identified as tropical army worm (TAW), which at this time of year are known to move en masse through pasture and orchards, causing considerable damage in a very short time - nurseries can also be plagued by these hungry visitors.
The good news is that they are easily managed once identified. There are several resources available to help with this on the Zespri Canopy here, and some great images on the iNaturalist website here.
If you think you might have spotted TAW, or anything else that leads to a ‘what in the world is this?’ moment, do remember that the free Find-A-Pest app is a really useful tool to help identify and report unusual looking bugs. You can quicky and easily submit a photo for identification and reference fact sheets on well-known industry pests. Most importantly, Kiwifruit’s Most Unwanted biosecurity threats such as Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Spotted Lanternfly are also highlighted on the app.
If you ever think you may have found a new-to-New Zealand threat, catch it if you can, take a photo, and immediately report it to the Biosecurity New Zealand hotline (0800 80 99 66) or KVH (0800 665 825).